If you were born in the 1970s like me, you probably grew up watching 1980s Cartoons. When I think of all of those TV shows I watched when I was a kid it brings back fond memories and the phrase “they just don’t make them like they used to anymore” pops into my head.
In the 1980s we didn’t have the internet, we didn’t have mobile phones and the computers we worked and played on had very primitive graphical capabilities (if you compare them to the monster PC’s we’re using in the 21st Century).
If you wanted to listen to music, you needed to turn on the radio, buy a walkman/boombox or ask your dad nicely if you can use the record player (without scratching his records) – CD’s only became really popular in the 1990s. If you wanted to watch a movie, you needed to go to an actual cinema or rent the video at your local video shop.
Fact is, the 1980s was a lot less technology driven time. Issues were either black or white. There wasn’t much room for grey areas. I feel that the current generation is spoiled (when it comes to technology and entertainment options). We were not lucky. I’m not jealous though, I’m glad I grew up when I did.
Okay, I’m done enough babbling, are you ready to delve into some nostalgia?
Here are 101 Interesting Facts about 1980s Cartoons:
1. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (Teenage Mutant Hero Turtles in the UK) first aired on television in December 1987.
2. 193 episodes of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles aired on television between 1987 and 1996.
3. At the time of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles‘ final episode, it was the longest-running cartoon show in American TV history. That record is currently held by The Simpsons (which is still running since 1989).
4. The original Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles comics were very explicit. In the comics the turtles sliced off heads with blood splattering, they said cuss words and they drank alcohol.
5. The theme song for the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles TV show was written in 2 days by Chuck Lore (the creator of The Big Bang Theory and Young Sheldon and Dennis C. Brown.
6. James Avery (Uncle Phil from The Fresh Prince of Bel Air) did the voice of Shredder in the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles TV show.
7. The catchphrase “Cowabunga” was not scripted for Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. Townsend Coleman blurted it out in an ad-lib and the studio liked it so much it became Michelangelo‘s catchphrase.
8. The original DuckTales TV series first aired on television in September 1987.
9. 101 episodes of DuckTales aired on television between 1987 and 1990.
10. The 1990s cartoon show, TaleSpin was originally intended to be a spin-off of DuckTales (featuring Launchpad.
11. Darkwing Duck (the 1990s cartoon show) was inspired by the DuckTales episode “Double O’ Duck”.
12. DuckTales was the first American cartoon to be shown on TV in the Soviet Union. It aired in 1991.
13. Another one of my favorite 1980s Cartoons, ThunderCats first aired on television in 1985.
14. ThunderCats was animated in Japan, but produced, written and voice-overed in the USA.
15. 130 episodes of ThunderCats aired on television between 1985 and 1989.
16. The first season of ThunderCats was actually completed in 1983, but was not publicly shown until two years later.
17. It’s highly likely that ThunderCats was inspired by a Japanese folklore about half-human, half-animal creatures known as “raiju” (which translates into “thunder beast.”).
18. He-Man and the Masters of the Universe first aired on television in the USA in September 1983.
19. The original He-Man figurine was released by Mattel in 1982. Filmation Animation studios developed the backstory for the toy line.
20. 130 episodes of He-Man and the Masters of the Universe aired on television between 1983 and 1985.
21. Episodes in which the character Skeletor appeared were never broadcast in France. His skull-face was considered too terrifying for children’s television.
22. He-Man and the Masters of the Universe was the first syndicated television show based on a toy line.
23. She-Ra: Princess of Power was a spin-off of He-Man and the Masters of the Universe and 93 episodes of the show aired on TV between 1985 and 1987.
24. Robotech (one of my favorite 1980s cartoons) first aired on television in the USA in March 1985.
25. 85 episodes of Robotech aired on television between March and June 1985.
26. The original Robotech series left viewers hanging with an unresolved ending that was not continued until the release of Robotech: The Shadow Chronicles in 2006.
27. Robotech was an adaptation of 3 combined and unrelated TV shows that aired between 1982 and 1984 in Japan.
28. The Transformers TV show first aired on US television in November 1984.
29. 98 episodes of the The Transformers TV show aired on TV between 1984 and 1987.
30. The Transformers TV show was based on a toyline by Hasbro.
31. Besides providing the voice for Optimus Prime and 4 other characters in The Transformers TV series, Peter Cullen also did voices for characters for G.I. Joe: Real American Hero, My Little Pony, Spider-Man, BraveStarr and DuckTales.
32. Terry McGovern did the voice of Windrider for The Transformers and the voice of Launchpad McQuack on DuckTales. He also did voices on various other 1980s cartoons.
33. The Simpsons TV show was broadcast on 17 December 1989.
34. The Simpsons started out as a short on The Tracey Ulman Show in 1987.
35. The Simpsons was created by Matt Groening (who also created the 1990s cartoon series Futurama).
36. Voice actor Dan Castellaneta (who voices Homer Simpson on The Simpsons) has also provided the voice to 30 other characters in the series. Hank Azaria, Harry Shearer and Nancy Cartwright (who provides the voice for Bart Simpson) also voiced various characters on the show.
37. To date 639 episodes of The Simpsons have aired on television.
38. 26 Episodes of the Spider-Man TV series aired in 1981 and 1982 and 24 episodes of the Spider-Man and His Amazing Friends TV series aired between 1981 and 1983.
39. Spider-Man was broadcast in Xhosa in South Africa in the 1980s. He’s known in SA popular culture as “Rabobi”. The theme song has been covered by Slugs of War and Action Thrillers in South Africa.
40. Ted Schwartz did the voice of Peter Parker / Spider-Man. He also voiced a character on G.I. Joe.
41. Stan Jones did the voice of Doctor Octopus on Spider-Man. He also narrated the 1986 film Little Shop of Horrors.
42. 65 episodes of Bionic Six aired on television between April & November 1987.
43. Alan Oppenheimer (the guy who voiced Professor Sharp on Bionic Six)also played Dr. Rudy Wells in the early seasons of The Six Million Dollar Man.
44. Jim MacGeorge voiced Dr. Scarab on Bionic Six. He also voiced characters on DuckTales, The Jetsons and Foofur.
45. Unlike other 1980s Cartoons, Bionic Six has never been released on DVD.
46. Jennifer Darling did the voice of Madame-O on Bionic Six. She also voiced characters for The Smurfs and TaleSpin.
47. 60 episodes of the Care Bears TV show aired between 1985 and 1988.
48. The original artwork for Care Bears was painted by artist Claire Russell for American Greetings in 1981. The artwork was originally used for greeting cards.
49. Over 40 million Care Bears toys were sold between 1983 and 1987 and American Greetings printed over 70 million of their cards during the decade. Sales of their merchandise reached over $2 billion during the 1980s.
50. Three Care Bears movies were released in the 1980s.
51. 65 episodes (consisting of 95 segments) of one of my favourite 1980s Cartoons, Disney’s Adventures of the Gummi Bears aired on television between 1985 and 1991.
52. Adventures of the Gummi Bears was the first Saturday morning network cartoon series produced by Walt Disney Productions.
53. Princess Calla was named after the daughter of NBC president Brandon Tartikoff.
54. Disney’s Adventures of the Gummi Bears inspired the 1994 Cartoon show Gargoyles.
55. Disney’s Adventures of the Gummi Bears was the subject of a 1993 Australian psychological experiment.
56. Michael Rye did the voice of Duke Igthorn for the Gummi Bears TV show. He also voiced characters for DuckTales and The Smurfs.
57. Actor James Marsden did the voice of Cavin for the Gummi Bears TV show. He’s voiced characters for various cartoon shows and games and also appeared in episodes of Baywatch and Star Trek: Deep Space Nine.
58. 256 episodes of The Smurfs aired on television between 1981 and 1989. 7 Specials were also broadcast on television during this period.
59. The Smurfs is based on the Belgian comic strip series of the same name. The comic strip was first published in 1958.
60. The Smurfs comic strip series was created by the artist Peyo (who also served as story supervisor of the television adaptation).
61. Paul Winchell did the voice of Gargamel and two other characters on The Smurfs. He was also the voice of Dick Dastardly for the Wacky Races cartoon series in the 1970s.
62. Gargamel‘s cat Azrael is named after the angel of death in Hebrew and Islamic traditions. (Yes, characters in 1980s Cartoons were evil sometimes…)
63. All naturally-born Smurfs are bald. Only Smurfette and Sassette (who were created by magic and are female) have hair.
64. 52 episodes of Dogtanian and the Three Muskehounds (known as “Brakenjan en die Drie Musketiers” in South Africa) were made.
64. Dogtanian and the Three Muskehounds was first broadcast in Japan in 1981. It was only dubbed into English in 1985.
65. “Brakenjan en die Drie Musketiers” premiered on South African television in 1985.
66. 65 episodes of BraveStarr aired on television in 1987 and 1989.
67. BraveStarr was produced by Filmation (the same animation studio that produced He-Man and the Masters of the Universe.
68. The title theme for BraveStarr was sung / spoken by Filmation founder and voice artist Lou Scheimer. The backing vocals were performed by his daughter Erika Scheimer. Lou Scheimer also did voices for He-Man and the Masters of the Universe and She-Ra: Princess of Power.
69. The background effects of BraveStarr‘s powers is the same as those used for Battle Cat’s transformation in He-man and the Masters of the Universe.
70. Pat Fraley provided the voice of Marshall BraveStarr. He was also the voice of Krang in Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. He also did voices for The Smurfs and DuckTales.
71. Charlie Adler did the voice for Deputy Fuzz on BraveStarr. He was also the voice of the mastermind in Police Academy 6: City Under Siege.
72. 19 episodes (48 segments) of Mighty Mouse: The New Adventures were aired on television in 1987 and 1988.
73. Patrick Pinney did the voice for Mighty Mouse. He also voiced Mainframe on G.I. Joe.
74. 95 episodes of G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero aired on television in 1985 and 1986.
75. Jackson Beck was the narrator for G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero TV show. He was also the narrator for Remington Steele.
76. G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero is based on a toyline from Hasbro and a comic book series from Marvel Comics.
77. Christopher Collins (also known as Chris Latta) voiced Cobra Commander in the G.I. Joe TV show. He also did voices for characters on The Transformers and Pac-Man.
78. 44 episodes of the Pac-Man TV show were aired between 1982 and 1983.
79. Marty Ingels was the voice of Pac-Man. He also provided the voice for The Devil on Darkwing Duck.
80. Pac-Man was the first cartoon show based on a video game.
81. 121 episodes of Garfield and Friends aired on television between 1988 and 1995.
82. Garfield and Friends was based on a comic that was created by Jim Davis. It was first published in 1978.
83. Lorenzo Music provided the voice for Garfield. He also did voices for Darkwing Duck and TaleSpin.
84. Thom Huge provided the voice for Jon Arbuckle on Garfield and Friends.
85. Gregory Berger did the voice of Odee on Garfield and Friends. He also did voices for characters on other 1980s cartoons.
86. 86 episodes of one my favorite 1980s Cartoons, Inspector Gadget aired on television between 1983 and 1986.
87. Inspector Gadget was created by Jean Chalopin, Andy Heyward and Bruno Bianchi.
88. Don Adams provided the voice for Gadget. He also appeared in 66 episodes of the 1980s Comedy Show, Check It Out.
89. Inspector Gadget was the first animated TV show that featured stereo sound.
90. According to the trading cards of the series, Inspector Gadget is said to have 14,000 gadgets in his body.
91. The theme music for Inspector Gadget was inspired by Edvard Grieg’s movement “In the Hall of the Mountain King” and was composed by Shuki Levy.
92. In Japan The Transformers was called “Fight! Super Robot Life form Transformers.”
93. The late Phil Hartman voiced Mr. Wilson on Dennis the Menace.
94. Comedian Arsenio Hall voiced Winston Zeddemore for three seasons on The Real Ghostbusters.
95. 140 episodes of The Real Ghostbusters aired on television between 1986 and 1991.
96. Dave Coulier (Joey from Full House) provided the voice for Dr. Peter Venkman on The Real Ghostbusters.
97. Only 14 episodes of Dino-Riders aired on television in 1988.
98. 65 episodes of Challenge of the Gobots were aired on television in 1984 and 1985.
99. Challenge of the Gobots was similar to The Transformers and based on the Gobots toy-line released from Tonka. Tonka was bought by Hasbro in 1991.
100. 27 episodes of the Dungeons & Dragons cartoon aired on television between 1983 and 1985.
101. 35 episodes of Star Wars: Ewoks and 14 episodes of Star Wars: Droids aired on television in 1985 and 1986.
Well, there you have it, 101 Interesting Facts about 1980s Cartoons. If you have a fact that needs to be on this list, leave a comment below and let me know. Feedback is appreciated and welcome here.
Watch this space for regular updates in the Television category on Running Wolf’s Rant.